Creativity is Food

When I haven’t been drawing or painting enough, my mind starts to trace the world around me.  I walk through the city and invisibly draw it in my head.   I can’t help but follow the edges of the shapes of things- tracing buildings and trees with my mind’s eye.    I’ll be talking to a friend and lose focus on the conversation because I’m fixating on slowly traveling down the slope of their nose with my attention.   The angular curvature of their jawline might become particularly exciting to me, much more engaging than the small talk coming out of it.  It’s weird— I know, but I literally can’t stop myself.

I noticed this often happening lately.  It happens when I haven’t had enough time at the easel.  It’s how I know.   I need to draw.

When I don’t write enough I feel it too- something is missing, but I don’t immediately know what.  It started to gnaw at me a few weeks ago.  A vague feeling of melancholy was creeping over me, but I couldn’t pin down why.  Then I sat down to write a simple follow up to a question a friend had sent me, and I wrote them a 3-page essay on what I think about our current political atmosphere.  I now had a clue.   Did they ask or need to hear all of that?!- probably not— but they got it regardless because-

I needed an excuse to organize my thoughts into words on the screen.  Ugh.  Embarrassing. 

Two days later I wrote my dad a 1200 word email when he had asked me a simple question about Thanksgiving.  Uh-oh.

I’m shoveling piles of words onto family and friends involuntarily.  I literally couldn’t stop myself— but now I knew what I was missing.

I need to write.

I have been starving for writing and drawing lately.   Now I know.

 So, I handled my craving for drawing.  I went to a traditional model drawing class downtown.  A serious one because I needed some drawing with substance and I’d been working digitally lately.

And my jones for writing? Well, I’m handling that right now.  I’m writing.

I have not written a blog post in a very long time.  I had made a pact to keep posting regularly, but then life-stuff (i.e., work/relationships/moving/project deadlines) caught up with me, and it got pushed to the back burner.  The work-life balance gets complicated, and sometimes we drop balls in the juggle, but this is not about time management or prioritizing. There are plenty of youtube videos and life-coaches of all flavors to deliver those kinds of life hacks if that’s what you need.

My point is this:  I feel like I’m starving and “making stuff” is the only sustenance possible.   I  have to do this writing—but not so that people will follow me or read it or even like it and not for money- obviously.   The reason that I have to do it because I like it.  I feel better when I have taken my thoughts and organized them on paper so that I can look at them objectively.  I feel better when I have observed the visual world and created my impression of it on the screen or canvas.   I have to do this because I am a happier person when I do.

Creative work is FOOD.  It sustains us.   Writing and art are my favorite kind.

For me, and I suspect for many others, creativity is as important as food.  It’s a necessity for me to feel fulfilled.  I have a hunger that only creative work will satisfy.

I wonder if everyone has the same desire.  I wonder about people that never make anything and if they are hungry for it too.  Maybe they feel like something is missing from their plate, but they don’t know what it is—maybe not.

Maybe the creative force shows up in weird and unexpected places in their lives, and they don’t recognize it.  Maybe it shows up in healthy ways and not-so-healthy ways.  Maybe it’s why people create mountains out of molehills—or unnecessary drama in their lives.  Do they simply need to create things and haven’t carved out the places or time to do that? Maybe people that create weird problems or an unwanted mess in their lives are doing so out of an unconscious necessity for makings things—anything.

It seems that knowing what you are creating and doing it just for the sake of the experience is an important part of a fulfilling human life.  We don’t necessarily need to share it with anyone—the doing is enough.  It’s fun to share with others and please do, but not essential.  It can serve to keep you accountable, though.   We are not designed to be cogs in a machine that are programmed to memorize instructions and carry them out without question.  We now have robots for that.  Finally. We are not designed to memorize math formulas and plug numbers into them without understanding why and how they fit into the world around us.  Google can remember the formulas for us.  Hopefully.   Comprehending how they were derived (created) and how they apply to our world is what matters because that prepares us to build new formulas.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that: All human beings need and do create things.  We have been creating all along.  It’s what we do.  We will make stuff whether we realize we are doing it or not and one way to relieve stress and frustrations in our lives is to create consciously.  

Know that you are “making something” and honor that.  Let’s recognize that we need to make time for it.

To live is to be creative.  You don’t need to have training– you can make anything.  Say you love music– make a playlist.  Fashion? Put an outfit together, style it, and post it.   Do you like talking, or giving advice?  Make a youtube video.   It can be anything– take a pottery class, bake a cake using peaches instead of apples to make it your own,  or build a model airplane with your kids– just to see. . . .

It may satisfy you in a way you never expected.